Throughout the past decade, every year, the number of families with young kids in downtown Toronto has increased. Much of this growth has been experienced in developing areas. For example, Liberty Village and surrounding neighborhoods have seen as much as a 110 percent increase in young kids since a decade ago, alongside its population. As more young couples have moved into Liberty Village, more young kids are expected in the next decade. How this is expected to impact the community is in a very significant way.
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Today, Liberty Village is already struggling to accommodate the growing number of families and young kids. There are only a few child care facilities operating in the neighborhood and as more parents have moved into Liberty Village, some have had to wait months and even years to secure a spot for child care. The lack of infrastructure has meant parents having to sacrifice time, effort, and income. Making things worse seemingly has been a lack of government intervention. To this day, there continues to be a lack of support for daycare service providers who are both established and emerging in Liberty Village.
To address concerns from Liberty Village parents, in July, 2017, a town hall meeting was held in the community by Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister Responsible for Early Years and Child Care, and Trinity-Spadina MPP Han Dong, sharing details of a $1.6 billion dollar commitment supporting the creation of more than 45,000 spaces in publicly-owned buildings across Ontario. As some of these spaces are likely to be created in Liberty Village, the questions present themselves of how many, where, and when. The answers are still unclear, and accessibility and affordability of child care in Liberty Village remains undefined.
The infrastructure that has been built in other neighborhoods to accommodate families, such as schools, libraries, and community centres, are nowhere to be found in Liberty Village. Though this adult atmosphere is what attracted many to the neighborhood in the first place, now that more couples are having children, there must be change.
Part of the blame, as it pertains to why these developments that feature prominently in other parts of the west end never occurred in Liberty Village, lies with the City itself. Contrary to how Toronto has behaved with other neighborhoods, child care spaces and similar family-friendly developments were not required of development proposals for the community. Today, we are seeing the ramifications of that.
Could this Result in Families Moving out from Liberty Village?
Some families may have to consider moving elsewhere, should Liberty Village continue to fail to accommodate their needs. The neighborhood has not yet taken care of its own families and every year, there are more moving in. Parents are coming for the opportunities that come with living in one of Toronto’s most attractive communities. As long as that opportunity remains alongside the accessibility of downtown Toronto, the neighborhood will likely continue to grow.
The problem is not just a Liberty Village one but a Toronto one as well. The ways in which neighborhoods, businesses, and even condo buildings develop is going to have to change to accommodate families. Despite the City moving ahead on condo standards and strategic development of child care spaces, little movement has come to Liberty Village as of yet. This upcoming fall, 2017, the City’s Parks and Recreation Department is expected to announce a master plan specifically targeting the implementation of new parks, aquatic facilities, and recreation centres. Ideally, one might hope that at least part of this announcement will have positive consequences for Liberty Village however that remains to be seen.
The Future of Liberty Village needs to Consider Families
Though most of the Liberty Village crowd is still young, more and more Toronto neighborhoods such as Liberty Village are seeing an uptick in families that is not expected to dissipate anytime soon. As new proposals have been submitted for condo developments and new legislation has come to guide these developments, the inclusion of child care services and ensuring that units are family-friendly are both central points. Though movement is slowly being made, it cannot come fast enough for the parents who are continuing to have difficulty finding family services and activities in Liberty Village.